Chief Emmanuel Ejiofor Magbo of Obeleagu Umana, Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State is a bronze smith of known repute. Like he is able to mould two pieces of iron or bronze into one symmetric whole he sees marriage as a union of two different people into one having the same agenda, purpose and respect. Recently he and his wife, Grace, celebrated the 48th anniversary of their marital union. In this interview with FELIX IKEM in Nsukka, they bare their minds on the secret of their long-lasting marriage. Excerpts:
Tell us how this journey started before two of you got married?
Husband: It all started during the Nigerian-Biafra Civil War. I met her at St. Peter’s School, Obeleagu Umuana in Ezeagu Local Government Area. They were distributing relief materials donated by an international catholic organization, Caritas. When I saw her, she got attracted to me and I had to inform one of my in-laws to inform her of my interest in her, which she did.
Was it the same thing with you or are there details you would like to add?
Wife: Yes. It was the same thing. We were taking delivery of the relief materials from Caritas. That was in 1969. Though when he came close to me, I didn’t know what he had in mind, the next thing I heard from one woman who eventually became our go-between was that he had interest in marrying me.
Was there any opposition to your marriage?
Husband: On my own side, there was no opposition. When I told my parents about her, they approved of my decision because they know that she is a very good girl from a very good family.
Wife: There was no opposition at all from my side. We know his family very well. They are good and they are very hard working.
What made you decide to go for your spouse instead of any of other lady or man in town then?
Husband: Well, let me say first of all, her good behaviour, the way she carried herself very humbly. Again, she is very industrious and very honest. Her yes is always yes and her no is always no. Again, it’s because of her good family background. Those were the qualities that made me go for her instead of any other woman.
Wife: Well, he is a man of goodwill. He is very industrious and honest. Very humble! He cannot hurt even an ant. He is very straightforward. Again, his family background made me choose him instead of any other suitor.
How did you propose to her? What exactly did you say to her as to make her accept to marry you?
Husband: Just like I told you, when I saw her, I liked her and had to delegate an in-law who informed her of my opinion about her. So, first of all, she had to tell her before I eventually met her face-to-face to tell her. That was the practice then. And, when I met her, I told her point- blank that I would like her to be my wife. I didn’t mince words. And happily, she accepted the proposal with a smiling face.
What did you say when he proposed to you? What exactly did he say and what was your reply?
Wife: Well, when he proposed to me, I accepted his proposal. When we met face-to-face, he said to me: “I have seen you and I like you; please, I will like you to be my wife.” That was his exact words. And so, I accepted his proposal. However, after the proposal, I went home and told my parents who asked me if I liked him. They also advised me to pray over it which I did and here we are today.
What do you remember most about your wedding?
Husband: Our wedding took place in 1971, more than a year after the Nigeria-Biafra war. It was very superb. A lot of people from my side and her side attended the wedding. So, the wedding was very colourful.
Wife: It was very successful one. I never expected such crowd, so to speak, to grace the occasion. Let me say this was so because the marriage received the blessings of both my parents and his parents and relations together with friends and well wishers.
Could you remember your first misunderstanding and how did you resolve it?
Husband: Our first misunderstanding happened after the death of our first son. That was after our wedding in 1971. The misunderstanding occurred in 1973. Something cropped up. We misunderstood each other and quarreled, exchanged hot words. It was however, resolved amicably between two of us. No third party was involved. But thank God, since then, we had not had any such serious misunderstanding again. We have been living more like brother and sister. If we have any misunderstanding which is normal in any human relationship, we resolve it within ourselves. No third party, not even our children will be involved.
Wife: Just like he told you, we misunderstood each other then and it was resolved amicably. We learnt some lesson from it. We don’t let any person know of our misunderstanding, even our children.
What is your wife’s favourite meal or food?
Husband: My wife likes foo foo. Though she likes every food but she likes foo foo or ‘swallow’ so much.
Wife: My husband likes every food except one Nsukka local food called achicha. Since I know him, he has never liked or tasted this achicha. Apart from that local food, he likes every other food.
What do you like most about him?
Wife: He is an honest man who wouldn’t like to get anybody hurt. He is also very prayerful. He is a very hardworking man. He is so passionate more especially in helping to solve other people’s problems.
Husband: She is a very intelligent and honest woman. She likes to be involved in solving people’s problems.
How many children were you blessed with?
Husband: To the glory of God, we have seven children: six males and one female. Virtually all of them are university graduates.
You have been together for about half-a-century. What is the secret of your successful marriage?
Husband: Let me tell you that there is no marriage without challenges. It is the ability of the couple to surmount these challenges that make their marriage successful. The secret of our marriage success is honesty. Truthfulness and understanding are also not left out. More so, we have not involved any third party in our marriage challenges. I started the marriage with her, so there is no way I can involve a third party when we have issues. I have come to understand that involving a third party in marriage challenges further aggravates issues. And this why I have avoided the third party involvement.
Wife: Since we married over 40 years ago my husband has not beaten me. He may quarrel with me on some issues but he has not raised his hands on me. Again, like he told you since we married, nobody has been invited to resolve any issue between us. Whatever issue we have within ourselves, we resolve it between ourselves. We don’t allow anybody to be involved in it. Moreover, we don’t keep malice or nurse anger against each other.
Looking at the success of your marriage, what advice do you have for intending couple?
Husband: Well, let me say again that every marriage has a challenge. However, all intending couples should look before they leap. Don’t marry because of money. Don’t marry because you are getting old. Marry because you want to live with him or her, that you can tolerate him or her.
Wife: My advice is that they should always be honest and sincere with each other. I know it is not easy for everyone in the world today, given the economic hardship we experience. Again, they should avoid third party in their marriage especially in terms of challenges or issues. They should resolve their problems by themselves. They should not let anybody give them instruction on how to live their marital life.
Given the high rate of divorce in the world today, what advice would you like to give to couples that are experiencing difficulties in their marriage?
Husband: Well, let me advise them to look into their problems critically and know how these problems came about. Moreover, they should ask themselves questions: am I doing what I am supposed to do? Am I taking care of my family? Do I place the comfort and happiness of my family above every other thing? These and more are pertinent questions each and every one of them should always ask themselves and balance them with honest and true answers. This way, they can resolve their problems peacefully.
Wife: Let me say that hardship, infidelity and insincerity are major reasons for marriage breakdown. Husband should not cheat on his wife and vice versa. My advice is that they should eschew these vices so that their marriage will be a happy one.